Depression and Anxiety — Correlations to Digestive/Complexion issues?

Came across this quite by accident while looking through various forums. It’s an interesting study but I’m not entirely sure if the correlation is necessarily a valid one. While it’s possible that depression and anxiety may indeed trigger conditions within the gut or skin to manifest, I’m more inclined to see it as a result of the behavioral shift than necessarily a chemical relationship.

Then again for myself I’ve suffered from a weak stomach and certainly acne all my life so I may not necessarily be the best person to be playing devils advocate here.

We Don’t All Get Happy Endings

Holidays always push my self-reflective side into overdrive. Not necessarily in a good way. Much like Thanksgiving last year, I had to get used to the changes in my life. The end of my marriage, the battle with depression. Shower-thoughts got me thinking about a number of aspects of how we frame life and how much depression causes that to go askew.

We all grow up with stories, fairy tales where the prince finds his princess and they live happily every after. Reality is of course not that plain and simple. Sometimes you find your princess and discover that life is difficult, that happiness isn’t always easy to come by.

The last few days of self reflection have me looking at myself in a most negative light. I sort of feel like I’m not meant to have a happy ending. I’m a background character set to toil and eek out his living. It isn’t rational, I know that but the feeling hangs on me like a dour blanket. I know I have to fight, I know I will lose friends along the way, these are all realities of the changes I’ve been a part of and some I’ve set in motion myself. If you’re in the same situation as I am, know that I understand what you’re going through. Sometimes the fight seems like the last thing you want to do and you just want things to ‘end’, but as long as you’re fighting you’re living.

Holidays and Anhedonia

One of the things I’m really learning is how to cope with the holidays when I feel next to nothing. I wouldn’t even really say that I have the holiday blues, it’s different.  It’s almost the holiday ‘indifference’.

Anhedonia has been a word I have come to loathe. I find small things that still bring me a sliver of feeling but by and large the holidays are numb to me. I don’t have any real sense of wanting to see friends or family. The prospect of a big meal is just sort of there without the fan fare. Wish it were possible to explain what it’s like to feel next to nothing at times like this.

Hopefully making some panna cotta will keep my head in the ‘holiday’ mode but to be honest it’s just another day for me. One I would gladly skip.

The Month of Voids (or I guess Avoids)

I’ll be totally honest I hate this time of year. Personal history is one factor, the general seasonal depression is another.  Sept marked my wedding anniversary, Oct both when I discovered last year that my marriage failed, November when the choice about divorce was raised and Dec when I moved out and my ex-wife’s birthday.

For me Sept through Dec is a period of the year that I simply wish I could avoid all together but that isn’t an option. Mornings are long and a struggle, nights are a battle with my insomnia and resulting hypersomnia due to fatigue.

I’ve tried to do things to keep myself distracted from self-reflection, walking, cooking, gaming, blogging, but my biggest fear is that even over time, as the pain subsides, as I forget the faces of my ex-wife and friends that it won’t feel any easier. Had one of those shower thoughts. Motivational messages like “Life’s easier when you delete the negative people in your life” are painful for people suffering from clinical depression. Life isn’t easier when you are one of those deleted people.


The Wary Wide Web — Technology Tools and Grain of Salt

A recent post by Jason Perlow on ZDNet.  I’m glad that he first prefaced that if you do think you may be suffering from anxiety and depression that you seek help from a licensed mental health professional.

The tools listed are a nice augment but I would put a word of caution. Tools like anything can be used but shouldn’t be the beginning and end all, nor should they be a persistent crutch. Mindful meditation, mood tracking and communities centered around depression are all helpful but take them in necessary moderation and don’t use them as a substitute for your formal care.

I’ve spoken in the past about tools and communities such as Pacifica and MyCounterPane.  Feel free to try them out, find a regimen that works for you.  Take breaks when you need to.

Close Friends and Coffee

My circle of friends shrank exponentially following my divorce and depression diagnosis. A good portion of it was a direct decision by me to cut ties where I felt the conflict of friendships was too high. I’m sure some felt this was just me giving up, but sometimes you have to come to a decision to take yourself out of a situation where your mental health comes at the cost of trying to act like nothing has changed.

Having said that, I still maintain a small group of friends that I still interact with, some local, some from far away (ish). I’ve never really been a social butterfly, I’ve always felt that it wasn’t the proximity of your friends or how many of them you had, it’s the closeness of them that counted the most. I would gladly rather have ten tried and true friends than a hundred trivial ones.

One of my friends, I’ll call her M, was kind enough of to send me a care package.

New brew to try
New brew to try

The manual labor of doing a pour-over (or hand-pour) coffee has been a coping tool for me. It’s that kick start of physical activity to get my blood moving and to get my mind focusing on something other than nightmares or depressive thoughts. I grind my coffee by hand so it’s a whole experience. Gone are the days of a push button Keurig for me. Call it coffee snobbery if you want, for me it’s a way of getting active, even if only in a small measure. What’s nice though is that I found ways to gradually expand from my coffee habit to things like making desserts (Coffee Panna Cotta — Dwallops of Happy Panna Cotta)

If you’re faced with the same challenges as I’ve been.  Try to find something even if it’s small. Every little bit helps if it gets you up and moving. It’s painful and easy to get trapped by depression and the physical ‘drag’ that entails. Small things can help in the long term, even if they don’t seem like it at first.


Politics, Elections and Depression

One of the more unusual things about this year’s election has been that the division of our country be it a matter of party rhetoric, racial divide or socio-economic has been at the forefront of the news.

Reports of suicide hotlines rose sharply after the Trump win. For me I had a painful sense that it would be a divisive vote and sure enough it was. Key states were the winning combination for Trump. Mental health however shot to attention as people had already been reporting of election related stress.

One of the things that worries me is that when it comes to health, mental health, women’s health, Trump isn’t always exactly known for popular views. Case in point his stance on PTSD ( My biggest worry going forward into this new Trump term of office is that focus is going to be taken away from services meant to help those suffering from mental illnesses and preventative care. That is genuinely something to worry about. Like a lot of society I worry that Trump will marginalized the mental health issues the country has and the consequences could be devastating.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) — It’s that time again

There’s a certain cruel irony that the acronym for this disorder is literally SAD. It is a very real thing and one that I suspect affects more than just the 5% quoted in this article.

When I lived in Oakland, CA the winter months were a bit of a shift for me. I grew up in Hawaii and winters there just meant more rain and a bit of wind, nothing as face-biting as the cold nights of the Bay Area. It’s nice that they list some quick coping mechanisms like getting more light exposure, but I’ll be honest winter is when I have the hardest time getting out there or harder still trying to be physically active.

My marriage came to a close in Dec of 2015 with the legal dissolution a few months later in April. The double whammy of the seasonal change and my dysthymia was rough and I can only imagine it’s even more of a challenge to folks with severe depression. I hope to keep myself busy in the kitchen for the winter months, trying to focus on eating healthy and not so much on what’s outside (gray skies, and people I’d rather not engage). Whatever your tool is try to keep yourself active, get out if you’re able, even if it’s just solitary activity to get some sun light.




Observation Happy Animals vs. Happy Humans

Rather surprised it’s taken me this long to notice this particular aspect of my depression. My social anxiety increased considerably over the last three years to the point where crowds raise my stress levels a lot. Yet there was something interesting that I realized when I took a closer look at my few social media accounts.

I don’t really react well these days to happy people. Families, couples, sometimes even kids. Seeing happy people in the world makes me feel oddly ‘misplaced’.  I don’t feel like I should be around them. On the other hand, watching happy animals I feel just fine and in fact probably feel better.

Case in point:

Happy Cows skipping out to grass for the first time

This simple GIF of cows experiencing grass. I’m not a vegan or anything but there is a simplicity to seeing these animals who have been penned up their whole lives getting to see nature.

Animals don’t have much in the way of motivations other than to live their lives, maybe that’s why seeing them experience happiness feels pure and unfiltered. Humans on the other hand can feign happiness. Whatever the case, it was a small realization I had this morning while browing Reddit (which is where the Cow-gif was posted).

Dwallops of Happy — Panna Cotta

Before my divorce cooking was an enjoyable exercise and sometimes a form of stress relief.  These days it’s a bit harder for me to get the ball rolling but I do enjoy a small simple project now and then.

This weekend I opted to experiment with a coffee panna cotta.


I decided to call this a ‘tribble’ since I had been watching a considerable amount of Star Trek. This is a coffee panna cotta topped with chocolate shavings. Truth be told I actually just used the shavings to cover up the top as it came out of the mold broken.

Hoping that this year at least I’ll be able to contribute to Thanksgiving by providing dessert instead of a usual side or starch.  I hope that gradually being in a kitchen and making meals for myself or family gets easier.  For now it foolishly feels like anything I make that’s at least edible is a trial in and of itself.